Anne Oliver writes engaging characters with a high degree of skill. Where she sometimes misses out is the internal conflict between the characters, that inner something that’s keeping them apart. However, I can live with that and come back for more, because she doesn’t write the same character over and over or the TSTL. This book is no exception.
Jake meets Emma when she visits his strip club to deliver a suit he is to wear at an upcoming wedding. The wedding at which she is the chief bridesmaid, and thus they are paired. Finding him in the back office of a strip joint doesn’t endear her to him, and although she is Scarlett to his Rhett (a fancy dress wedding!), she isn’t going to let him sweep her into his arms and climb the grand staircase. And yet, she’s attracted to him.
Jake has inherited the club from his reprobate father, and he’s in the process of selling it. What could have been an irritating big misunderstanding doesn’t last long, as Jake and Emma actually talk. They behave sensibly, so we don’t get flounces and tantrums. What a relief!
The book is all about Jake and Emma’s courtship. In recent books, I’ve sometimes felt that I’ve come in partway. I haven’t had the first meeting, the first kiss and so on, so it’s good to get the full story here. The Australian and New Zealand background is well described without the book becoming a travelogue. Just enough to make it interestingly different.
Emma’s problem is that she’s too safe, she doesn’t take enough risks. So she’s missing out on her life’s dreams and she won’t step out of her comfort zone personally. She doesn’t even want to be Scarlett. Her mother is a complaining depressive, and while Emma went out to work at a call center to make money, her sister stayed at home caring for their mother. Mrs. Byrne complains and keeps Emma down with her criticisms.
Emma makes soaps in her spare time and sells them to make more money. She enjoys doing it, and the soaps are hypo-allergenic, so people with skin sensitivities will be good with them. There’s a lovely scene where she gives Jake a hand massage—but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Jake is attracted to Emma and suggests a one-night stand. The night of the wedding. He’s traveling after, so they can’t be together longer than that. Of course they are, or there wouldn’t be a story.
I enjoyed this book. It makes a refreshing read from the histrionics of others in the Presents line, and Oliver has a smooth, easy-to-read style that keeps you going. However, I could have done with a bit more drama and perhaps something going on internally, a more developed reason for them to be apart. Jake has one big problem, which would be a spoiler to reveal. However, it would have been nice to see used more earlier on, instead of just being brought in as needed, dealt with and put aside. Too episodic, I’d have appreciated some foreshadowing. The whole book is a series of problems that are dealt with in that way. While it’s great to read a story about a rational couple, maybe more involvement and escalation of problems might have made for a more intensive read.
However, I will definitely carry on reading more Anne Oliver books. This is a great book for a quiet hour or two’s read, and that’s all I ask from the Presents line. It’s good to see Emma and Jake work towards their happy ending, and unlike recent reads, I have no doubt they’d work out any future problems and stay together for a long time to come.
Missed the bouquet…caught the best man? Emma Byrne has never been one to let her hair down – family obligations and a cheating ex have put paid to that. Now she has another responsibility to take just as seriously: she’s her sister’s maid of honour! Wickedly charming best man Jake Carmody is intrigued by Emma, and can’t resist the challenge of unbuttoning her and freeing her of her inhibitions…starting in the honeymoon suite! But after one sinfully wicked night Emma realises that this letting-your-hair-down thing could be incredibly addictive…
Read an excerpt.